A nation whose education officials already have warned that they will, when necessary, “bring the religious convictions of the family into line” with state requirements, now has removed a 16-year-old girl from her family and placed her in a child psychiatry unit after she turned in below-expected grades in math and Latin.
The news of nearly two dozen officials and uniformed police officers physically taking the teen from her home in front of her shocked family is just the latest horror story to come out of Germany, where homeschooling was placed under a ban by Adolf Hitler and der Fuhrer’s law still is enforced.
The stories are concerning to homeschoolers in the rest of the world, including the United States, because of the real potential that international law eventually could be used to ban such activities in places where it now is legal.
The newest German case was reported in a statement delivered to WND by Netzwerk-Bildungsfreiheit (Net-Education Freedom), an organization that works for homeschoolers’ rights in Germany even though it is illegal there.
A spokesman for that group had contacted WND after the news website broke the story that a German government official had warned that families’ religious beliefs will have to be brought into alignment with required school attendance laws.
The government at that time had responded to a parent concerned about children being forcibly placed in custody by police officers and then delivered to the mandatory public school system:
“In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement,” the government said.
The student in the newest case was identified by the German organization as Melissa Busekros. She has been removed from her parents’ custody, and placed in the Child Psychiatry Unit of the Nuremberg clinic, her father, Hubert Busekros, told the homeschool group.
“What is being done to a sensitive and musical young girl, just because the bureaucrats want to set an example? In their zealous drive to enforce compulsory schooling (which by Melissa’s age is only part-time) at all costs, they readily accept the trauma caused to the unassuming and lovable Melissa,” the German homeschool said.
“The Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit condemns this inconsiderate and totally incommensurate behaviour on the part of the officials involved and demands that they give Melissa her freedom and return her to her family immediately.”
The case began developing in the summer of 2005, when Melissa, then 15, was told she’d have to repeat the 7th grade at the Ernst High Gymnasium, a public school, due to her grades in math and Latin.
“The situation in the class played no small part in creating this state of affairs – the high noise levels and cancelled classes prevented her from receiving the educational assistance she needed during school hours,” the German organization said.
Since she had good grades in all the other classes, she and her parents decided she would be tutored individually at home to meet her needs. She still took part in music and sang in her school’s choir.
But school officials were unhappy, and expelled her, so the Busekros family continued educating her at home. At the end of the 2005-2006 school year she was no longer subject to full-time attendance requirements, but the Jugendamt, or Youth Welfare Office still created a case in Family Court and ordered the family to appear at a hearing.
Then this week social workers accompanied by police officers appeared at the home one morning, demanding that Melissa be handed over to them immediately, providing as authorization a ruling by the Erlangen Court dated Jan. 29.
It said, “The relevant Youth Welfare Office is hereby instructed and authorized to bring the child, if necessary by force, to a hearing and may obtain police support for this purpose.”
The teen was taken to the Child Psychiatry Unit and interrogated for nearly four hours, after which she was returned home, the Netzwerk said. However, the worst was still to come.
On Thursday, the Family Court judge, staff members of the Youth Welfare Office, and 15 police officers “marched up to the Busekros home, to haul Melissa off to the Child Psychiatry Unit.”
“This treatment was justified by the psychiatrist’s finding, two days previously, that she was supposedly developmentally delayed by one year and that she suffered from school phobia,” the Netzwerk said.
“It is not known when Melissa’s parents and siblings will be able to see her again, as the official approach in cases of ‘school phobia’ is to completely prevent the ‘patient’ from having any contact with those closest to him or her, as such contact supposedly enables the phobia,” the Netzwerk said.
Such issues are alarming U.S. homeschool leaders.
Michael Farris, cofounder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, has called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the right of parents to educate their children at home, in light of such developments in Europe.
One of his major concerns is that if the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a plan already accepted as law by many nations around the globe, were ratified by the Senate or adopted by the federal courts as enforceable international law, American homeschooling could be banned.
A homeschool advocate in Germany earlier wrote to WND that, “We are not far away from an intolerant dictatorship in our country. Parental rights are more and more abolished. If you do not educate the way the state wants, the so-called Jugendamt (youth welfare office) is quick to check out if they can take away the custody of your children.”
He is not being identified because of his position in Germany.
“As long as you practice your faith in a church building you have no problems, but as soon as you act in accordance to your faith, for example, in the education of your children, the freedom ends rapidly,” he said.
He likened the situation to that of families under the Nazi regime, or “like in the former Soviet Union under the Communists.”
The HSLDA also has pleaded for help for the German community.
“The situation, unfortunately, is not getting any better, and they need your prayers and support,” the organization said recently. “Most recently, a decision was handed down by the European Court of Human rights (which) … completely turned the European Union Constitution’s Article 14, the section on parent’s rights to control the education of their children, completely upside down.”
That decision will allow any nation in the EU, should it choose, to outlaw homeschooling. “Meanwhile, the German homeschoolers continue to be unmercifully persecuted. In our last report, we explained that there were approximately 40 families in court at one stage or the other. Families are fleeing regularly to other foreign countries in order to continue homeschooling…”
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